Parents Don’t Approve

Dear Sara,

I am nineteen and have been going with the same boy since I was in tenth grade. He’s almost twenty-two now and wants to marry me. I love him and want to marry him but my parents don’t think he’s good enough. He works hard and has a good salary but my parents think I should marry someone with a college education so I will have a better future. They both have college educations and my two brothers are both in college. They have decided that if I marry him they won’t pay for or attend my wedding. This is tearing me apart. Is there any way to deal with this?

Dear Phoebe,

It doesn’t sound like you would be happy if you follow your parents’ wishes. They shouldn’t be able to control your future but they somehow feel that they have this right. They must feel like you are making a really big error in judgment. They don’t seem to have any problem with your young man except that he is not college educated. Some young people have found that even with a college education it’s difficult to find a job.

You have been dating your boyfriend for long enough to know what your feelings for him are. When you feel you are ready, do what’s best for you.

Sexually Active Teen

Dear Sara,

I have a fifteen-year-old son who has been reasonably free from problems up until now. When I was doing the laundry I found a condom in his jeans pocket. I had no idea that he was even thinking about being sexually active and I don’t have a clue what to say to him. Or should I just ignore this? How do I deal with this?

Dear Leah,

Your son is probably a little young to be sexually active but he’s at least trying to protect himself and his partner if this should happen. It would be a good idea to let him know that you found his condom even though it could be uncomfortable for both of you. Let him know that even though he uses a condom that they are not 100% foolproof and that if he has sex with a girl and she gets pregnant he will have to bear the responsibility for his child.

He may deny that he has had a sexual relationship and that he just wants to be prepared. Listen to what he has to say and try not to be judgmental. You can’t control what he does when he’s not with you so you have to start letting go and hope you have instilled some good judgment in him.

Divorce Over Finances?

Dear Sara,

My husband and I have big financial problems and are facing bankruptcy, mostly because of his gambling problem. We have two kids in grade school who are somewhat aware of our problems. We are about to lose our house because we can’t pay the mortgage. I am looking for a rental but it won’t be in the same neighborhood we live in now because we can’t afford it. The kids will have to change schools. I have a job and I don’t think I can depend on my husband to provide for us anymore. I don’t believe in divorce but if he can’t give up his gambling, I don’t want to be responsible for the debt he racks up. What should I do?

Dear Cara,

If you continue to live with a husband who is addicted to gambling your life will stay the same, always scared because you can’t pay the bills. Do you want you and your children to live this way? The only thing you can do is to give your husband a choice. You and the children or his gambling. You need the stability and peace of financial security.

If possible go to counseling and talk about your problem with someone who can help you look at things objectively.

Good luck.

Mixed Feelings

Dear Sara,

I have been best friends with the man I am dating since we were in grade school. Our parents are friends as well and our families usually end up together for holidays and vacations. I haven’t really dated anyone else. We are in our twenties now and he is starting to talk about marriage. I like him a lot and enjoy his company but he is more like my brother. We haven’t had sex and I really don’t think I feel that way about him. The physical attraction is just not there for me. If I broke up with him I would not only hurt him but our parents as well since they expect us to marry. I want to get married and have children but I don’t think I want to marry him. What can I do?

Dear Ginny,

You have to be honest with your friend. He has been with you so long and you haven’t really had the opportunity for other relationships so you don’t even have the experience to know what is right for you. If you marry to please everybody else, it could work. You could find that you actually do love him. The problem with this is that if you find you just married to please everyone else and you actually find someone that you truly do love you will be faced with even bigger problems like divorce and children whose lives will be affected. It’s probably best if you deal with things now and let your friend know how you feel.

Researching Birth Parents

Dear Sara,

I was adopted at birth in a private adoption and I have always wondered about my birth parents. I am about to get married and I have no clue about what my children might inherit from their unknown ancestors. My parents refuse to help me saying all of the adoption information has been destroyed and I am their child no matter what. My parents are wealthy and I’m pretty sure they could hide or destroy any information related to my adoption. What can I do to find out what my heritage is?

Dear Mark,

Your parents seem to be determined to keep your adoption information to themselves. There may be something in there that would be embarrassing or harmful to you. The best thing you can do is to get genetic testing which is readily available now. This would a least give you some basic information about things your children might inherit but it won’t keep you from wondering who your birth parents were. If your parents won’t change their mind you’ll just have to let it go.

Breast Cancer Fears

Dear Sara,

I am a forty-year-old Mom with four kids. I found a lump in my breast and I am scared to death. My Mom died of breast cancer when I was eighteen and that was really awful for me. I don’t want my kids to go through this. I’m scared to go to the doctor and find out that I have cancer and I’m going to die too. How do I get through this?

Dear Claudia,

I think you know that you have to get to the doctor right now! You need to know if your lump is malignant or not especially since you have a family history of breast cancer.

Age forty is time to start your annual mammogram anyway according to the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging. An annual screening mammogram is recommended because breast cancer is treatable if caught early. 3 D mammography has been shown to improve the detection of breast cancers decreasing the number of women asked to return for additional testing.

The sooner that you can get this checked out the better. There are more ways to combat breast cancer than when your Mom was treated and the outcome is also better. If you have breast cancer or not you won’t know unless you check it out. I hope for the best outcome for you.

Getting In Too Deep

Dear Sara,

I am thirty-five and I haven’t ever been married. I am dating a man who has three children ages eight to fifteen. His wife died three years ago. I really like (maybe love) him but I am not sure I want a ready-made family. I’ve met his kids several times and they seem cautious to say the least. If we married I would be their stepmother. I want a child of my own but this seems overwhelming to be responsible for four kids. What should I do?
-Mary Ann

Dear Mary Ann,

It sounds like you need to take your time and get to know your boyfriend’s children better. It’s very difficult to go into a ready-made family and try to be a Mom to kids who don’t know you very well. Try to see if you have some common interests and be willing to do things that they like to do.

If you marry, your life will differ from what you are used to. Only you can decide if your love is strong enough to make the change.

Moving Concerns

Dear Sara,

I don’t know what to do. I have two girls in grade school where they seem to be happy. We live in a fairly small house in a neighborhood where there are other families like ours who are friends as well as neighbors. My husband has inherited a farm from his uncle and he wants to move there. He used to spend his summers on the farm and help his uncle but really hasn’t had much experience farming. He thinks he could make a living farming and he’s not happy with his job. When my kids get older I would like to go back to work but this wouldn’t be possible if we moved to the farm. There are so many negatives in this that I can tell uprooting us wouldn’t work for me and the kids. How can I convince my husband that this just isn’t a good idea?

Dear Barb,

You could suggest to your husband that he rent the land and keep the house for your summer vacation. If no one takes care of the place it could grow up fairly quickly. As strongly as you feel about this you would probably be really unhappy and this would put a great deal of stress on your marriage. If he insists then maybe you could go back to work and let him try it on his own for a while. This sounds like a dream that he has had and the reality of it may make him change his mind. Your husband probably won’t be happy unless he gives his dream a chance.

Good luck.

Escaping An Abusive Relationionship

Dear Sara,

My husband has been more and more abusive to me. He tells me I deserve it because I am a terrible mother and housekeeper. He gives me money for groceries and checks the receipt to make sure I spent it all on groceries. If he sees that there is anything left he wants it back so I never have any money of my own.

The kids are afraid of him but think he’s right when he criticizes me. They are just as controlled as I am. They feel they have to be perfect to please him. My husband is well known in the community and well respected. I feel like no one will believe me if I talk about my situation. He promises not to hit me anymore but then he says he can’t help it because I’m so stupid and careless. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m afraid to be on my own because I don’t think I can take care of myself and the kids

what advice can you give me?

Dear Sheila,

If you stay with your husband and do nothing everything will continue as usual. It’s going to be up to you to get out of this intolerable relationship. This is a bad example for your kids to follow. Your sons will grow up thinking that it’s OK to treat women with such disregard and your daughters will think abuse is a way of life. It’s possible that your husband will eventually kill you.

You may be afraid but you are the only one who can get yourself out of this terrible situation. There are places that battered wives can go for help. Contact the one in your area. Don’t let this abuse go on.

Bi-Polar Sister

Dear Sara,

I have been in charge of my bi-polar sister’s baby. She stopped taking her meds because she wanted to get pregnant. She went out of control and ran up a big debt and has no money. She’s taking her meds again and seems to have everything under control at this time. I am really worried that she won’t stay on her meds and be able to take care of her baby. She says she’s ready but I’m worried about her and the baby. How can I keep them safe?

Dear Jodi,

I don’t think you can be really sure that your sister will remain clear-headed and logical. You can only assess the situation and see how she is doing on a daily basis. Staying on her medication is probably the best indicator that you have.

Maybe you could see how she does on an overnight visit with her baby. Is she managing he finances now? Trying to pay off her debt? Are you able to speak to her social worker or doctor to get information on how she is doing? If she thinks she’s ready then she needs to be given an opportunity to take care of her finances and her baby.

Good luck.